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Disenfranchised and Disillusioned: Little Progress Made for Voters With Disabilities

Despite suggestions to make voting more accessible, people with disabilities still face barriers. Megan Linton · for CBC News · Posted: Sep 01, 2019

A man arrives at a polling station on the first day of advance voting for a federal byelection in Burnaby South on Feb. 15, 2019. Despite recommendations from an advisory group on disability issues formed by Elections Canada in 2014, little has changed for voters with disabilities as Manitobans prepare to vote in both a provincial and federal election in the coming weeks, says Megan Linton.

Dad’s Invention for Disabled Daughter Gets Recognition at National Contest

by: Glacier Media
August 21, 2019

A device developed by a Saanich father to keep his disabled daughter’s diaper dry has taken second prize in a Canadian national contest.

The CareChanger, a sensory device that monitors for moisture and alerts caregivers to the need for a diaper change, took second place in its category at Innovative Design for Accessibility, a competition of Universities Canada, an organization that includes the University of Victoria.

Jim McDermott said he is meeting with a technology and design firm to discuss taking the device further, possibly to market.

“It might be a little easier now that I actually have an award-winning device to sell,” said McDermott, a retired maintenance engineer.

UW Student Helps to Develop Online Accessibility Tool

Prototype eases web navigation for those with visual impairments Aug. 20, 2019
by Brent Davis
Waterloo Region Record

A University of Waterloo student has helped develop a new tool to make online navigation easier for people with visual impairments.

The prototype, dubbed VERSE Voice Exploration, Retrieval, and Search merges voice-based virtual assistants on devices like phones and smart speakers with screen readers, which can read out the contents of a web page to the user.

Alexandra Vtyurina, a PhD candidate at UW’s David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science, collaborated with researchers at Microsoft and University of Washington assistant professor Leah Findlater during an internship at Microsoft Research in Redmond, Wash. last summer.

National Federation of the Blind Applauds Introduction of Greater Access and Independence through Nonvisual Access Technology (GAIN) Act

Urges Swift Passage of Legislation to Preserve Independence of Blind People in their Homes Baltimore, Maryland (July 31, 2019)

The National Federation of the Blind, the oldest and largest nationwide organization of blind Americans, today applauded the introduction of the Greater Access and Independence through Nonvisual Access Technology (GAIN) Act of 2019 (H.R. 3929) in the House of Representatives.

The bill was introduced by Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), and Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA). This legislation directs the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (the “Access Board”) to develop a minimum nonvisual access standard for home-use medical devices, exercise equipment, and home appliances, and provide for the enforcement of the standard.

Could Assistive Tech Transform the Social Care Sector?

Originally posted 17th July 2019

Learning disability charity Hft has partnered with Tunstall Healthcare, a specialist in connected healthcare solutions, to release a new report on how assistive technology can support and transform the social care sector.

The report looks at the untapped potential of assistive technology and how it can support disabled people, increase independence and free up carers to focus on more meaningful support. It also highlights how assistive technology could help bridge the disability employment gap and get more disabled people into work.

Hft says that with social care funding in crisis and with care needs and demands growing, the realisation of the potential of assistive technology could revolutionise the way care is delivered, bringing about helpful changes for healthcare professionals and users alike.

Caught Out: How CAPTCHA Patterns Trip Up People With Disabilities

22 July, 2019

Ariel Bogle* says people with disabilities face encoded inhospitality and numerous other barriers as they try to access the internet.

Dr Scott Hollier logged into an online portal recently, and was immediately faced with a familiar yet irritating internet question: How many of these pictures include buses?

CAPTCHA security tests, or the Completely Automated Public Turing Test, to Tell Computers and Humans Apart, are not always accessible to people with disabilities sometimes putting them, ridiculously, in the robot category.

I had two choices, said Dr Hollier, a digital access specialist who is legally blind.

Why Do We Fix AI Bias But Ignore Accessibility Bias?

Kalev Leetaru Contributor
AI & Big Data
I write about the broad intersection of data and society.

“As the Web has become increasingly visual, with pages of text replaced by rich high-resolution imagery and video, it has become increasingly inaccessible to those with differing physical abilities who rely on accessibility software like screen readers.”

Silicon Valley has become obsessed with addressing AI bias. As deep learning algorithms have graduated from the academic research lab into the real world, there has become a growing awareness of the implications of their innate biases as their limited Western training data has collided spectacularly with a globalized digital world.

How Charities Can Meet the New Digital Accessibility Standards

Charities are legally responsible for meeting accessibility standards online, but most don’t. Digital accessibility expert Carlos Eriksson of Studio 24 explains what they can do to fix it, starting now. Guest Writer | 20th Jun 19

Carlos Eriksson is Accessibility Lead Developer at Studio 24. Eriksson was named ‘Champion of Change’ in the 2019 BIMA 100 which recognises the top 100 digital movers and shakers, thanks to his decade-long work making the web better for everyone.

In the past couple of years, accessibility has gone from being an afterthought at best, to an often spoken about subject at conferences and water coolers alike.

Disabled Musicians are Being ‘Failed by Venues’

By Mark Savage
BBC Music reporter
9 May 2019

Last year, Ruth Patterson’s band Holy Moly and the Crackers tried to book a tour of the UK.

But one venue wrote back, refusing to host them because Patterson, who has arthritis and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, uses a wheelchair.

“They said they wouldn’t book us because I was a fire hazard,” she says. “That’s absolutely horrendous.”

The singer is not alone. A new survey suggests disabled musicians face significant barriers in UK venues.

Of the nearly 100 deaf and disabled performers surveyed by Attitude Is Everything, two-thirds said they had to “compromise their health or wellbeing” in order to play live.

The Coming Web Crack-Up

Apr 21, 2019
Peter Slatin
Contributor

Diversity & Inclusion I write about undoing norms that inhibit success for disabled people.

This post is the first in a series on web accessibility.

Remember the bumper stickers that read, If You Can Read This, You’re Too Close? Yeah, danger ahead. Well, as America races down the cyber-highway, we should be on the lookout for a pile-up, because despite warning signs (as in a blizzard of web-accessibility lawsuits, up almost 200% last year from 2017) everywhere, people with disabilities just aren’t going to be able to move past the many obstacles heedless developers and designers are putting in their way.

Blind People Can Struggle to Understand Memes, So They Made Their Own

Screen-reading software allows visually impaired people to use the internet, but it hits a wall when it comes to memes.

In January, a photo of a woman holding a probing cane and looking at a phone went viral on Facebook after the poster implied that the subject was faking blindness given that she was clearly able to see her phone screen. Though the image was shared thousands of times by people who believed the joke, commenters were eventually informed of the reality, which is that blind people and people with low vision depend on their phones just as much as anyone else.

Legal Battle Over Captioning Continues

A legal dispute over video captions continues after court rejects requests by MIT and Harvard University to dismiss lawsuits accusing them of discriminating against deaf people. By Lindsay McKenzie
April 8, 2019

Two high-profile civil rights lawsuits filed by the National Association of the Deaf against Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are set to continue after requests to dismiss the cases were recently denied for the second time.

The two universities were accused by the NAD in 2015 of failing to make their massive open online courses, guest lectures and other video content accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Court Ruling Further Clarifies ADA Website Accessibility Obligations

Conn Maciel Carey LLP
USA February 21 2019

Over the past several years, we have written extensively about employers’ obligations to make their websites accessible for individuals with visual, hearing and physical impairments. In the past, we have counseled employers who are considered a “place of public accommodation” (such as a hotel, restaurant, place of recreation, doctor’s office, etc.) to at the very least do some due diligence to determine whether their websites are accessible for disabled users, so that those individuals can use and navigate those websites and/or purchase goods sold on

Phones Still Aren’t Quite Right for People With Disabilities

February 18th, 2019
Posted by John Toon-Georgia Tech

Mobile phones are increasingly more accessible for people with disabilities, but there are still some significant gaps in service, according to a new study.

Researchers compared 2017 model year phones capable of receiving Wireless Emergency Alert notifications a category that includes most top-tier phones to 2015 versions and found improved accessibility across 10 of 13 features.

However, phones offered through the federally subsidized Lifeline program for low-income people fell short in nearly every category when compared to phones offered through traditional wireless plans.

Copy Machines Being Upgraded for Accessibility

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Feb. 15, 2019

Copy machines capable of producing documents accessible to those with low vision or other sight impairment will soon be in place at 11 locations across campus. It’s the start of a campaign to ensure these machines are readily available for the campus community.

When scanning a document, most copy machines produce a PDF image that’s undecipherable to screen-reading technologies. The new functionality allows copiers to scan a document to create a PDF file that can be read by these technologies using optical character recognition, or OCR.

Our Biased Web: Why Don’t We Care About Making The Web Accessible For All?

Kalev Leetaru
AI & Big Data I write about the broad intersection of data and society.

As society has increasingly awoken to the dangers of algorithmic bias in the machine learning and AI systems that underlie an ever-greater portion of our lives, it is notable that for all of the attention and funding being focused on AI bias, there has been in comparison a deafening silence on the topic of accessibility bias.

As the web rushes ever faster towards a multimedia-first existence, why is it that there is comparatively so little conversation about making this content accessible to those with differing physical abilities?

Siri on the ReSound Linx Quattro Smart Hearing Aid a First for AI voice Control

Next stop: integrating with Google Assistant.
Jessica Dolcourt
January 9, 2019

“Hey Siri, stream iTunes through my hearing aid.” That’s just one of many things you can do with the ReSound Linx Quattro, the first smart hearing aid to use AI to pair with Apple’s Siri assistant.

Smart hearing aids are part of a burgeoning field of gadgets set to transform the health care industry. For the Linx Quattro, that means drawing people with hearing impairment further into their digital world.

The Linx Quattro uses AI to learn your preferences and settings over time, and to proactively make adjustments to various sound profiles. You’ll be able to ask Siri to change profiles with voice commands (e.g. turn up the volume in my left ear).

Compass Slapped With Lawsuit Over Website Access for the Blind

Discrimination lawsuit highlights legal risk for brokerages that don’t comply with Americans with Disabilities Act by Teke Wiggin Staff Writer
Dec 28

Compass is being sued for allegedly failing to make its website fully accessible to blind people, raising the specter that real estate brokerages remain exposed to a legal risk about which the National Association of Realtors had previously warned members.

The suit, which is seeking class-action status and was filed on Dec. 12 in a New York district court, accuses Compass of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for “its failure to design, construct, maintain, and operate its website to be fully accessible to and independently usable by Plaintiff and other blind or visually-impaired people.”

CRTC Mandates Standards for TTY, IP Relay Accessibility Messaging Services

Individuals who are deaf, hard-of-hearing or deafblind will soon have access to faster, better message relay services By Sameer Chhabra
Dec 14, 2018

Canada’s telecommunications watchdog has issued a decision mandating standards for message relay services.

According to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) December 14th, 2018 decision, groups that provide text-based message relay services (MRS) like teletypewriter relay (TTY) and internet protocol relay (IP relay) will be required to implement quality of service standards, as well as a standard for call answer time and typing speed.

As per the CRTC’s latest telecom decision, 80 percent of all calls each months will need to be responded to by a live MRS operator within 20 seconds.

Instagram Improving Accessibility for Users with Visual Impairments

New features include “alternative text” to provide descriptions for pics. by Gordon Gottsegen
November 28, 2018

On Wednesday, Instagram announced new features intended to provide a better experience for people with vision impairments.

Instagram is introducing automatic alternative text, which lets you hear descriptions of pictures when using Instagram with a screen reader. The automatic alternative text uses object recognition tech to generate a list of things that may appear in the photo, helping people know what they’re looking at.

Instagram also lets you create your own alternative text. When posting a photo, you’ll be able to go into the Advanced Settings and add your own alt text, which can be heard when using a screen reader.